"Angry" Jon Stewart blasts Biden for "becoming Trumpian" in response to valid worry that he'll lose

The "Daily Show" host called out the Democratic "omerta" to shut down any conversation around Biden's age

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published July 11, 2024 11:27AM (EDT)

The Daily Show with John Stewart (Comedy Central)
The Daily Show with John Stewart (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart on the latest episode of his "The Weekly Show" podcast tore into President Joe Biden over a level of "deceit" that the comedian argued stooped to the level of former President Donald Trump.

Stewart's criticism of Biden follows the President's tough showing at CNN's June 27 presidential debate, in which he made a series of seemingly age-related fumbles and struggled to appear coherent at times. Speaking to guests Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor — both of whom served as staffers for the Obama administration — Stewart criticized the "omerta" (an Italian code of silence) surrounding any honest and open discussion of the 81-year-old president's elderly status. 

“If we are taking an honest look at what our best chance to defend ourselves against a perceived threat, I think we are selling ourselves short," Stewart said. "And in a lot of ways, using, as Tommy put it, ‘omerta,’ to stifle what could be an incredibly productive, at least conversation, even if Joe Biden came out and said, ‘Look, I understand where I’m at in my lifespan and cycle and what I do, here’s how this government works.’ Rather than coming out and becoming Trumpian and saying, ‘You think someone else could hold NATO together? They could never. Only God can tell me to get out of the race.’”

“Nothing that’s been done inspires any confidence other than the fatalism of, ‘It is what it is, and this is what we’re stuck with," he added. "And that’s the part that I think has degraded people’s trust in institutions and the government from the get-go, that’s a problem.”

Biden during a highly anticipated, post-debate interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos claimed that he had simply had a "bad night" and that he was just "exhausted." The president also claimed that only divine intervention could see him halt his presidential campaign, telling Stephanopoulos, “I've spoken to all of them [House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi] ... If the Lord Almighty comes down and said ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race, but the Lord Almighty's not coming down."

“What do I do with my anger at a Democratic Party that honestly has put us in this rock and a hard place position?" Stewart asked on his show. "That wasn’t honest over this past year about what was happening internally at the White House. Was not in any way preparing the public for Kamala Harris. Wasn’t doing any of that. There was a — I don’t know if it’s complacency or deceit or whatever it was — but a Democratic Party that missed all of the threats that were coming their way and has left us vulnerable here,” he said.

The "Daily Show" host on Monday used much of his live show's segment to lambaste Democratic lawmakers who have continued to defend Biden's ability to win the presidency and complete a successful second term. Unlike Trump, who Stewart noted "delivered at the debate to expectation" by lying at various points, Biden's "performance and inability to articulate at times was stunning."

"For a campaign based on honesty and decency, the spin about the debate appears to be blatant bulls**t, and the redemption tour hasn't gone that much better," Stewart claimed.

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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